Oh dear. I've caught the time-travel bug.
So… yeah. Sorry for those of you who were hoping for something original. I officially fail at life. What can I say? I love time-travel fics. Can't get enough of them, but something about them is always off, or there's always something I would have done differently. So I wanted to write my own. :)
Plus, this is kind of my way of solving the writer's block I've got on my Tsubasa fic. I've been writing like crazy lately, but for some reason Fai is giving me trouble… looks like it's gonna be another long wait on the update.
Oh, yeah, anyway, this fic will be highly depressing. (More so than Play the Fool. Terrifying thought, no?) And also Sephiroth/Cloud. Probably. You know Cloud. "There is nothing in this life that I don't treasure." To a certain extent he kinda loves everyone. Ack! Ranting again. I haven't gotten much sleep lately. Sorry.
Warnings: Shounen-ai, Suicide, war, language, and most likely infrequent updates (the horror!)
Aaaaaand I don't own FFVII or the characters therein. Wish I did though.
As an aside, I just found out about Dissidia. (I know… I'm out of the loop…) Oh. My. God. Sephiroth looks AWESOME in the trailor!
On that note, enjoy.
"You're leaving again, aren't you." Tifa's voice was full of tears, and its raw emotion made him wince. He wished he had kept to the original plan and left in the morning. Maybe then she wouldn't have been awake to see him go. But he was just so tired of this constant hiding. He needed to go somewhere where he could grieve. Because even after all was said and done, even after he'd had to kill Sephiroth again.... He couldn't find forgiveness. Maybe he knew that Aerith and Zack didn't hate him, but that didn't mean he could forgive himself. For a while, he had thought just knowing they didn't hate him would be enough, but...
"Where will you go?" He closed his eyes against Tifa's question, steeling himself against her will. He had to leave. The need to find his atonement, to make up for everything he'd done was overpowering. He knew he would go mad if he didn't feel like he was doing something to wash the blood from his hands. Tifa wouldn't understand that. She would think he was just overstressed, and try to take care of him. She cared too much, and knowing he couldn't return it, her love was absolutely stifling. He couldn't put up the front she needed, couldn't give her the love she deserved.
He'd already given that to someone else.
He chose not to answer her, and continued walking. Saying something now would only give her hope, and that was something Cloud didn't want to do. He'd already hurt her so much. He didn't want her to be crushed when she finally figured out he wasn't coming back. "Be safe, Cloud." He didn't turn to look, but he saw her crumple all the same. He knew exactly the way the tears were streaming down her cheeks, hands wringing her shirt as she tried to hold back the sobs. He wanted so badly to go back and soothe the pain away, but he knew he couldn't. The others would look after her now. Barret had returned from his oil digging expedition, and could take care of Marlene and Denzel for him. Yuffie and Cid were never too far from reach. She wouldn't be left alone. Cloud had made sure of that at least.
For all that it hurt her to watch the man she loved leave another time, there was never a doubt in her mind that she would find some way to see him again. He was a constant in her life, even if they went a few years without seeing each other, he always came back. And she had to have faith in that, because if she didn't, if she just gave up on him... Well, that's what everyone else was always doing, wasn't it? But not Tifa. Never her. She couldn't give up on Cloud because she was the only one who truly・
Whatever she was thinking left her when she walked to the back door of the bar and saw that Fenrir was still there, along with a note. With shaking hands, she tore the paper envelope. She had to lean on Cloud's motorcycle, one of his only pleasures in this world, to keep herself from falling. In all the times he'd gone before, he'd never bothered to leave a note, because he always came back. To see one now, left behind with his bike, all his money, and a large amount of his materia, forced Tifa to realize the truth. She'd been left behind too, and this time, no matter how hard she ran, she was never going to catch up.
Cloud didn't know how long he'd been wandering. Time meant nothing in this hellish world of fragmented memories and regrets. He didn't know when the last time he'd eaten was, or the last time he'd seen another human being in this empty wasteland. He didn't remember how this wasting away was going to help the world in any way, but then, what use did living have any more? He wanted to atone, so very badly. More than anything, he wanted to wash the blood of Sephiroth and Zack and Aerith and so many others. But no matter how many times it rained, his sins were never washed away. Always they haunted him, drifting like phantoms behind his eyes.
"Maybe you were right after all." He murmured to the gunman that wasn't there. He hadn't seen Vincent in years. Last he'd heard, the man had settled down and was living a semi-normal life with Shelke and Yuffie. Cloud found it ironic that the man who had never tried for forgiveness had finally found it. Maybe that was the key. Maybe by giving up he could somehow find salvation.
But wasn't that what he was doing? Giving up? As he lay in the hot desert sand and stared blearily up at the sun he thought that he might be. He heard a sand-worm shifting somewhere beneath him and couldn't bring himself to care. It probably wouldn't bother him anyway. He smelled like blood and mako and death—not all that appetizing to a sand worm. Some kind of bird flew far off in the distance, a black silhouette against the too-bright sky. Most likely it was just a buzzard waiting for him to die, and Cloud had to laugh at the thought that it would be disappointed. Would there even be a body left if he died? He and Kadaj had been very much alike. Would the Jenova cells inside him simply overtake him until only mako was left? Cloud closed his eyes and decided he didn't care. If he was about to fade away into nothing more than a memory, it would be hypocritical to care.
No. Gods, he didn't want to think about memories and green eyes and silver hair right now. In fact, he didn't really want to think at all. But trying not to think inevitably led to new thoughts and soon Cloud was back on the same mental track, to the path he'd walked so often he'd worn his mind thin. Was there anything he could have done? For any of them? He had to think that there was. There had to have been a way to save Aeris, to keep Zack from dying. There had to have been. He was just too stupid to know what it was. And Sephiroth… If that wasn't a mess he didn't know what was. More than any other of the deaths weighing heavy on his conscience, the hero felt the loss of his nemesis. Sephiroth didn't have to be his nemesis. If he had only seen what the horrible books in the Shinra Mansion were doing to his General, if he had only taken the initiative to talk to the lonely, broken, tortured soul that Sephiroth truly was, he could have—
Cloud curled into a ball despite the pain it caused him, allowing the dry sobs to wrack his aching body. He could have. He could have saved Sephiroth. And even if he hadn't, even though he didn't, was the world really worth it? He'd fought against his hero after Zack's death, had screwed things up and gotten Aeris killed and put his friends in danger and handed over the Black Materia. He'd been forced to kill Sephiroth, but he'd saved the planet in the end. Was it really worth it? Maybe he shouldn't have bothered to fight at all. Maybe that cursed day when Zack handed over his legacy, he should have told Tifa he wanted nothing more than to care for the bar. Or better yet—maybe he should have taken the sword that stood for honor and pride and hope, and slit his own throat. Whatever fate the planet had without him had to be a thousand times better than the history it had wound up living out.
Time passed strangely in that half-dream state. Cloud knew he was dying, and he had the presence of mind to wonder if he already had. Perhaps he was already dead, and his soul was simply drifting in the deepest reaches of hell. His stomach was spasming now with hunger, throat positively burning with thirst, but still the mako kept him alive. He began to think it wasn't possible to waste away, and if he wanted to die, he was going to have to put some actual effort into it.
He shook as he dragged himself across the shifting sand, hand outstretched for First Tsurugi. He was through with trying to atone. He was done with trying to help everyone. Best to let it all end now before he caused someone else to die—before the word started ending again. If he was dead they couldn't guilt him into trying again. Couldn't make him kill that person again. Cloud would break if he had to face that man even one more time. He wasn't sure he hadn't already broken.
It was impossible to lift the heavy sword with failing limbs, and Cloud couldn't help but laugh. It would be the perfect hell to simply lay here forever, too weak to kill himself, to pumped with mako to die. Maybe it was meant to be his atonement. Ah, well, if he was lucky, a prisoner might wander here from the saucer and be kind enough to kill him. It was doubtful, but Cloud had plenty of time. Still… He didn't think he could stand to keep going over and over the same things in his mind until fate decided to be kind. He fiddled with the hitch on Sidewinder, draping himself over the gigantic sword and fought to get the smaller blade free. The many edges of his beloved weapon nicked him as he fumbled awkwardly, but he didn't register those tiny pinpricks of pain. The extreme amounts of mako in his blood healed them quickly. If he was going to kill himself, it wasn't going to be by bleeding out. He would have to deliver a quick shock to his system; perhaps a sword through his heart.
Cloud had never had trouble dismantling Tsurugi before, but Sidewinder remained firmly ensconced in its niche for what felt like hours. He didn't mind the wait. Fighting with his weapon gave him something other than guilt to think about, forced him to focus on his hands and the grooves between swords and the release. It was calming in a way. So when he finally got the smaller sword free, he didn't remember why he even wanted it.
The blessed numbness didn't last long. Almost as soon as his hands were still, his thoughts were back to attack him, thrusting the guilt upon him a hundred fold. Weak as he was, he didn't think he'd be able to thrust the small sword into his own chest. With emaciated hands he dug a small hole for the hilt to stand in, packing the sand around it until it stood firmly, blade up, on its own. Now all he had to do was fall.
Well… he had to stand up first, he supposed. He couldn't manage to get all the way up into a standing position. His legs could no longer support his weight. But Sidewinder was short enough that he didn't need to pick himself up all the way. Kneeling should have been enough. His arms strained against the shifting ground as he slipped and pushed and tried for purchase. The sun was beginning to set again by the time he, quivering, found himself to be kneeling. He wasn't quite sure how he'd managed that, but he had, and that was all that mattered.
Cloud decided that falling was remarkably easy. It was probably the easiest thing he'd ever done. He closed his eyes, and let everything go—his life, his guilt, his love—everything. In that instant, he was finally, finally free. Cloud was smiling as his beloved Gaia held his sword steady and true—smiling as Sidewinder pierced his barely beating heart.
We can be forgotten together. He said to the memory of an angel somewhere in the fragments of his mind. He swore he heard laughter like sunlight as he lost sight of life. To hear that laugh again… Cloud couldn't have wished for a better death than this.
Please Review! I need feedback (positive or negative) in order to improve. And maybe I'm a bit of an attention whore. Just a little.